Scuba weight system

Your Weight Belt and/or Weight-Integrated BCD

Most people float. In addition, wetsuits and dry suits are also substantially buoyant. Properly adjusted, your scuba weight system adds just enough weight to offset the tendency to float so you can descend. That is, it allows you to go down – it doesn’t make you sink.

Also known as : weights, weighting, lead, integrated weight, weight belt, scuba weights, scuba weight belt.


There are primarily two basic styles of weight system.

  • The oldest form of weight system is the weight belt. The most typical is a nylon belt with lead weights threaded onto it, though you can get fabric belts with pockets for more comfort.  These are many times available at a dive resort or dive boat operation.
  • Integrated weights are systems built into your BCD. This eliminates a need to carry a separate belt, and most people find them much more comfortable than weight belts while diving. The only downside is that it makes your scuba unit a bit heavier to move around before and after the dive.

Required features

  • Quick release. Regardless of type or model, for safety your weight system must have quick release that allows you to use one hand in one motion to drop enough weight to float reliably.
  • Reliable buckles. While you need a quick release, you also need to be sure you don’t accidentally drop weights unexpectedly.

Desirable features

  • Multiple releases – Especially when dry suit diving, if you need to ditch some weight, it’s typically better to ditch some of it, but not all of it, so you’re not too buoyant. Integrated weight systems typically allow you to do this.

Optional features

  • Pocketed weight belt – If you opt for a weight belt, the pocketed versions are versatile, hold most types of weight and are more comfortable.

How to choose a weight system

Your choice of weight system will depend upon your BCD choice and your exposure suit choice.

  • If you won’t use much weight at all, such as when warm water diving in a body suit or shortie wetsuit, a weight belt may be fine.
    For most temperate water diving, an integrated weight system is usually more comfortable.
  • Dry suits use the most weight, so you may choose an integrated weight system and a weight belt. This redistributes your weight more evenly for maximum control and comfort. The PADI Dry Suit Diver course helps you learn more about the proper weighting and techniques of diving with a dry suit.


  • Learning to weight yourself properly is an important skill you learn as a new diver. Take the PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course to refine this skill.
  • You have a quick release for a reason. If you’re in a situation where you want to be sure you float, don’t think twice about dropping your weight. Just do it. Nine times out of ten you can recover it later. In those cases when you can’t, think of it as a relatively cheap investment in your safety.